The Resurrection of Jesus

By Roger Shiflet

When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2:14-40, he tried to convince his hearers that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah) sent from God. One of the arguments he used to prove his point was Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. “He, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:31-32). That Jesus Christ died, was buried, and arose again from the dead on the third day is one of the most incredible claims ever made. How can we believe such? Let us consider just some of the evidence that Jesus actually did arise from the dead.


First, the empty tomb is one of the greatest proofs of the resurrection. After the lifeless body of Jesus was placed in the tomb, Roman soldiers were sent to guard it. A great stone was placed over the opening of the tomb, and it was then sealed (Matthew 27:62-66). But early on the first day of the following week, when some women came to anoint the body of Jesus, the stone had been removed and the tomb was empty. Who had broken the seal and rolled away the stone? Jesus’ disciples had no reason to remove the body. Even if they had wanted to, they could not because of the soldiers. The Jewish leaders would not have removed the body. They wanted more than anything for the body of Jesus to remain in the tomb. They were the ones who had asked Pilate to post a guard over the tomb (Matthew 27:64). We must conclude that a miracle did occur. Jesus was raised from the dead.


Another great proof of Jesus’ resurrection is the silence of the Pharisees. Why is it that when Peter boldly proclaimed, “This Jesus God has raised up,” there was not one word of objection from among the Pharisees? Not one of the Jewish leaders rose to his feet to challenge what Peter said. Why? They had made sure that the tomb was sealed and guarded. All they had to do was produce the body, and the controversy would have been forever settled. They did not produce the body because they did not have it. And they did not challenge Peter’s statement because they knew it was true. The resurrected Christ had appeared, not only to the apostles, but to over 500 people, many of whom were still available to testify as to what they had seen (1 Corinthians 15:4-6).


Also, take into account the amazing change which had overtaken the apostles. At the time of Jesus’ betrayal, they had acted in a very cowardly way. “Then they all forsook Him and fled” (Mark 14:50). The apostle Peter had even gone so far as to curse, swear, and deny that he even knew the Lord (Mark 14:71). But beginning with the day of Pentecost, they were willing to be imprisoned, beaten, or even killed for the name of Jesus (see Acts 4:19-20). The only possible explanation for such a change is that they knew that their Savior had arisen from the dead.


Finally, consider the conversion of Saul of Tarsus from the Jewish religion to Christianity. When we are first introduced to Saul of Tarsus, he is tending the garments of those Jews who are stoning the Christian Stephen to death (Acts 7:58). In Acts chapter 8 we read of Saul persecuting the church and imprisoning Christians. But later Saul was converted to Christianity (Acts 9:1-18), and for the rest of his life he was perhaps the most dedicated, sacrificial Christian who ever lived. He traveled thousands of kilometers and underwent untold hardship in an untiring effort to spread the gospel. Who converted Saul of Tarsus? Who could have impressed him so as to bring about such a complete change? It would have been extremely difficult for a Christian to have converted Saul, for he would

probably have had that Christian imprisoned or killed. The Jews would not have converted Saul to Christianity; they liked him the way he was, an unbeliever. Who then did convince Saul to make such a change in his life? It was Jesus himself. Jesus, however, had been crucified and buried several years before. A dead Jesus could not convert anyone. Therefore, in order for Jesus to have converted Saul, He (Jesus) had to have been raised from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15:8, Saul affirms that Jesus had arisen: “Then last of all He [Jesus] was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”

We thank God that we serve a risen Savior.